Colorful Madrid has the ability to impress not only with its tourist attractions, the racy graffiti of talented street masters, the green parks spreading as far as the eye can see, the unusual food, which is served in restaurants around 22 p.m. and with its tannin-rich wine... It’s noble for one more reason – it’s spacious coworking spaces that have become an oasis for hundreds of freelancers. One of those spaces, however, Mares - Madrid, differs from the others and instantly catches one’s attention like a magnet. If you are passing by it, you instantly want to explore what’s inside as the sun rays reflected on its windows can’t reveal everything that it has to offer.
"Mares" is a pilot project by Madrid Municipality that encourages transformative initiatives across the city related to five different areas – mobility, food, recycling, energy and social care. The complexity of its functionality meets the needs of many groups of people. The space promotes activities linked to self-employment, restoration of abandoned spaces or development of support networks. One of the main goals is to empower the creation of companies, develop effective structures and promote civil and institutional practices that lead to the development of Madrid, so that it thrives on cooperation, sustainable solutions and healthy lifestyle.
There is a spacious hall to the left from the entrance which is dedicated to organizing a number of cultural events and discussions. All residents of the city are welcome to join those initiatives without having to pay any fee. In the summer, the glass panels that form the walls of the hall can be removed and even random pedestrians, who happen to pass by the coworking space, can stop by and participate in the events. The hall has a minimalistic design – you can find a projector, several tables and many plain chairs, but the geometric flower-stands, painted in yellow, provide a spectacular atmosphere.
Beyond the “Mares” neon sign, you can see a fully equipped kitchen. Two skillful, young chefs are preparing tempting chocolate chip cookies. The space allows chefs, who do not have restaurants of their own yet, to use the equipment for up to 6 months in order to validate their business idea. They have the opportunity to refine their recipes before they start presenting them to potential customers. Everyone who wants to use Mares' base is included in a schedule and is aware which days are dedicated to making pastries and which days – to more sophisticated dishes.
Besides the kitchen facilities, the cooks can also use some of the products, provided by Mares’ team, as well as the fresh vegetables, grown on its open roof, which reveals a breathtaking view. It’s not a problem for biodegradable waste to be composted. And the solar panels have a dual function – they generate energy and protect you from the sun at the same time. The roof is also a great place for organizing cocktails during the warm months of the year.
Downstairs you will find the common space where everyone can rent a desk or use the conference room. Freelancers use the wide table in the center of the room to have their lunch or share their view on the latest episode of their favorite miniseries. Here you can also find the famous yellow flower-stands with a geometric shape, but the items that catch the eye the most are the couplers hanging from the ceiling. You can also put your personal belonging in a locker so that you don’t have to worry about them if you need to leave the space for a while.
"Mares" is one of 18 projects selected by the citizens among over 300 creative initiatives applying for funding. The space is built using the local administration’s budget, as well as funds from the European Regional Development Fund. A cooperative of organizations, including the Spanish foundation "Action against Hunger", is spreading the word and promoting its initiatives. The project is a brilliant example of social innovation, which is based on the design of services that lead to the transformation of the whole city. It encourages initiatives for a social and solidarity economy, promoting sustainable employment and promoting self-employment.